Worship At Home
Small Group Reflection of 04-10-20
In these days of social distancing we have endeavored to provide a Corpus Christi online worship experience. The Worship At Home web page has been our attempt to provide that. One of the ways our community has used this resource has been to gather virtually in real time using video conferencing software like FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, and Zoom. In an effort to hold onto our deep liturgical roots, one virtual group has gone to the point of having rotating presiders, lectors, and even homilists. The reflections provided by the members of this group have often been very inspiring. In an effort to share these reflections with the larger community several of them have been collected and published here on the CC website.
Reflection from 04-10-20, provided by Olivia DiGiorno.
Today is maybe the most visceral Good Friday we have ever experienced. The suffering of Christ on the cross is everywhere today as the world weathers the coronavirus pandemic. There are no easy answers or quick solutions. Easter may be further off than we think. We exist today in the liminal space between the injustice of Christ’s suffering and death and the hope of the resurrection that we know is still to come in Easter. It is uncomfortable for a reason.
I want to start by acknowledging the reality that the Gospel of John, which the Catholic Church uses as its exclusive source for its Good Friday liturgy of the crucifixion each and every year, uses anti-Semitic language in its account of Jesus’ death. This language, which is also present in other parts of the Bible, has contributed to harmful, patently false understandings of Jewish people by Christians. The Catholic theologian Rosemary Ruether characterizes John’s gospel as the gospel in which “the Jews” are framed as “the very incarnation of the false…principles of the fallen world, alienated from its true being in God.” She argues that “the only authentic way to read the antithesis between the ‘believer’ [which is the identity John’s gospel assigns to Christians] and ‘the world’ [which is the identity assigned to “the Jews” in John’s gospel]” is to demythologize “the Jews.” We have to understand that the Gospel of John was written at a specific time, in a specific context. The community that produced the fourth gospel was in a complex family feud and they used demonizing, essentializing language to place blame on a specific group of Jewish leaders to advance their newfound zeal for Christianity.
Context is everything. For us, we read the gospel of John today, some two thousand years after its writing, in an utterly different context. We know that anti-Semitism is evil and un-Christian. We know that Jesus — a Jew himself — was murdered on the cross by Roman authorities who were threatened by his impassioned rejection of structures of domination and oppression. Far from “the Jews” being responsible for Jesus’ death, the gospel of John tells us that disbelief in God’s vision of liberation and freedom is how we crucify our God. We cannot forget that the crucifixion of Jesus was a violent event, a vivid example of the worst ways that humans act when we sin against God and ourselves by clinging to unjust relationships and power structures. Let us not sanitize the cross, especially now as the coronavirus pandemic is amplifying injustices of racism, and classism, and our failure to love one another as God loves us all.
Good Friday is the day we acknowledge in tandem the overwhelming brokenness of our world and the overwhelming reality of God’s stubborn presence of love and solidarity in times of distress. We’re reminded that God joins us in our lament and understands our confusion. In the account of the crucifixion in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ humanity is made painstakingly clear. Jesus cries out from the cross where he hangs slowly dying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Like us, Jesus questions God. He wonders where God is in the midst of his own suffering. He reminds us that doubt is an act of faith. And he beckons us to consider who among us feels similarly forsaken and to remember that the forsaken and forgotten of our world bear the image of God in Christ. As Richard Rohr puts it, “The Divine Mind transforms all human suffering by identifying completely with the human predicament and standing in full solidarity with it from beginning to end.” Christ’s passion is one born of a love so eternal that it is incomprehensible.
Today, in our context of uncertainty, suffering, and fear, God in Christ is with us. As Mark pointed out yesterday, we have a unique opportunity right now to sit in this messiness, to be still, and to contemplate how we got here and how we can mobilize our yearning for the resurrection to come in Easter in order to move closer to realizing the justice of God’s vision for humanity. This is the beginning, and the end is yet to come.